The Deception of Self

“You must become an expert concerning your own habits of self-deception. Most of us deceive ourselves with little dramas all the time. We have blind spots of which we’re not even aware. We intentionally avoid seeing things because we believe that what we’ll uncover about ourselves will be too painful to bear. Self-deception is so insidious because its very process “covers its tracks”– so when you look back, you not only don’t know what you deceived yourself about, but you don’t see the method by which you did so.

Tony Bevacqua

“Self-deception, by its very nature, is the most elusive of mental facts. Self-deception operates both at the level of the individual mind, and in our collective awareness of the group. To belong to a group of any sort, sometimes the tacit price of membership is to agree not to question anything that challenges the groups way of doing things.”

Daniel Goleman, “Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception”

 

What is self-deception?

I’m reading the book Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception by Daniel Goleman, PhD

This idea that we deceive ourselves has been a fundamental aspect of my journey toward self-mastery. It’s what propelled my interest in philosophy since, for me, philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom, of what is righteous and real and optimal, devoid of bias and self-interest. Philosophy as a process, as a method of discovery, is about identifying inconsistencies in thinking, about examining the nature of problems and determining the most empowering methods for overcoming them. This process directly involves dissecting our assumptions, or the values we bring to experience about the way things are, their order of importance, the nature, and their relation to other aspects of perceiving.

What are assumptions?

Assumptions are inherent in our perception. They are unconscious. They operate as fixed values about the nature of things, consisting of the properties and relationships inherent in objects of perception. Thus, assumptions are the foundations of perception. They are the material that construct the schema’s in which we organize our point of view. They are the intellectual and emotional structures occupying our frame of reference, which we use to derive meaning, to determine cause and effect, to prioritize our attention, to conclude understanding.

Assumptions exist as an absence. They are not conscious. They exist as a result of our conditioning, a consequence of repetition, of repeated confirmations of reality which highlight pain or pleasure, and thus validate their veracity or truthfulness of the world.

Assumptions are implicit. They are rarely observed until there is a conflict, a dissonance, a disagreement, or pain or a threat to our existence, either physically or socially, as in the threat of ego annihilation.

Philosophy is the process of challenging assumptions. Socrates referred to himself as a “gadfly”, an annoying pest which diverts attention and causes discomfort.

If humans never existed, problems would never exist. Problems only exist in man, as a result of a dissonance, a conflict in his will to survive, to self-preserve, or his will to power, which is to exert influence amongst his human peers in a way that organizes him around his self interest for his preservation.

Problems exist in the mind. They are what separates us from what we want. Its when the internal doesn’t match the external. It is a cognitive dissonance which produces an emotional distress, which is directly proportional the threat of physical existence.

We wish to avoid this threat at whatever cost, by denying its reality, by compartmentalizing, by diverting our attention to more comforting or resonant thoughts and activities, which reinforce the existing state of self, or any state of self which is more comfortable or more stable, which is at equilibrium with a more predictable and familiar world “outside” the self, or us.

“The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most fatal tendency — the belief that the here and now is all there is.”

Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind

“Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“It is a self-deception of philosophers and moralists to imagine that they escape decadence by opposing it. That is beyond their will; and, however little they acknowledge it, one later discovers that they were among the most powerful promoters of decadence.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power

Uncommon

I do not choose to be a common man,
It is my right to be uncommon … if I can,
I seek opportunity … not security.
I do not wish to be a kept citizen.
Humbled and dulled by having the
State look after me.
I want to take the calculated risk;
To dream and to build.
To fail and to succeed.
I refuse to barter incentive for a dole;
I prefer the challenges of life
To the guaranteed existence;
The thrill of fulfillment
To the stale calm of Utopia.
I will not trade freedom for beneficence
Nor my dignity for a handout
I will never cower before any master
Nor bend to any threat.
It is my heritage to stand erect.
Proud and unafraid;
To think and act for myself,
To enjoy the benefit of my creations
And to face the world boldly and say,
“This I have done.”
—Dean Alfange, My Creed

What is a Poet?

“What is a Poet? To whom does he address himself? And what language is to be expected from him? He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endued with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind; a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him; delighting to contemplate similar volitions and passions as manifested in the goings-on of the Universe, and habitually impelled to create them where he does not find them. To these qualities he has added a disposition to be affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present; an ability of conjuring up in himself passions, which are indeed far from being the same as those produced by real events, yet (especially in those parts of the general sympathy which are pleasing and delightful) do more nearly resemble the passions produced by real events, than any thing which, from the motions of their own minds merely, other men are accustomed to feel in themselves; whence, and from practice, he has acquired a greater readiness and power in expressing what he thinks and feels, and especially those thoughts and feelings which, by his own choice, or from the structure of his own mind, arise in him without immediate external excitement.”
—William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Lyrical Ballads

Will to Power

Suppose nothing else were “given” as real except our world of desires and passions, and we could not get down, or up, to any other “reality” besides the reality of our drives–for thinking is merely a relation of these drives to each other: is it not permitted to make the experiment and to ask the question whether this “given” would not be sufficient for also understanding on the basis of this kind of thing the so-called mechanistic (or “material”) world?… In the end not only is it permitted to make this experiment; the conscience of method demands it. Not to assume several kinds of causality until the experiment of making do with a single one has been pushed to its utmost limit (to the point of nonsense, if I may say so)… The question is in the end whether we really recognize the will as efficient, whether we believe in the causality of the will: if we do–and at bottom our faith in this is nothing less than our faith in causality itself–then we have to make the experiment of positing causality of the will hypothetically as the only one. “Will,” of course, can affect only “will”–and not “matter” (not “nerves,” for example). In short, one has to risk the hypothesis whether will does not affect will wherever “effects” are recognized–and whether all mechanical occurrences are not, insofar as a force is active in them, will force, effects of will. Suppose, finally, we succeeded in explaining our entire instinctive life as the development and ramification of one basic form of the will–namely, of the will to power, as my proposition has it… then one would have gained the right to determine all efficient force univocally as–will to power. The world viewed from inside… it would be “will to power” and nothing else.

F.W. Nietzsche -from Beyond Good and Evil, s.36, Walter Kaufmann transl.

The Nature of Artists

It’s been a long while since I’ve read a passage that resonates with my soul as powerfully as this passage does:

But fortunately, artists do not have to be morally admirable people. All that matters is that they create great art. If his own art is to come out of the more contemptible side of himself, so be it. Flowers grow best on dung heaps, as Shakespeare never tires of saying. Even Henry Miller, who presents himself as a straightforward fellow, ready to make love to any woman no matter her shape or size, probably has a dark side which he is prudent enough to conceal.

Normal people find it hard to be bad. Normal people, when they feel badness flare up within them, drink, swear, commit violence. Badness is to them like a fever: they want it out of their system, they want to go back to being normal. But artists have to live with their fever, whatever its nature, good or bad. The fever is what makes them artists; the fever must be kept alive. That is why artist can never be wholly present to the world; one eye has always to be turned inward. As for women who flock after artists, they cannot wholly be trusted. For just as the spirit of the artist is both flame and fever, so the woman who yearns to be licked by tongues of flame will at the same time do her best to quench the fever and bring down the artist to common ground. Therefore women have to be resisted even when they are loved. They cannot be allowed close enough to the flame to nip it out.

—YOUTH, by J. M. Coetzee

Assert Your Inner World

“There’s no reality except the one contained within us. That’s why so many people live an unreal life. They take images outside them for reality and never allow the world within them to assert itself.” -Hermann Hesse

To be is to be perceived. Perception is not a quality of the world, but of our mind.

Hesse is referring to the creative imagination, our ability to stipulate and synthesize original thoughts, or in this case concepts, to render new and original experience.

Concepts are not found in experience; we apply them to experience.

In short: When these words are perceived, concepts of understanding (categories, classifications, definitions) are brought a priori to experience in order to render it intelligibly. These a priori concepts of understanding mediate between subjective judgments of perception (derived from a posteriori sensations and a priori pure intuitions) to yield objective judgments of experience. You do not have direct access to external reality. Think of a priori concepts of understanding as the ‘interpretative lens’ or ‘conceptual structure’ used to intelligibly render and organize and categorize experience. The a priori concepts of understanding being applied determine the objective concepts of experience, and anything objective can be freely disputed by asserting alternatives.

I believe Hesse is asserting that the mind, being independent and a priori of experience, can choose to create and stipulate its own conceptual interpretative system for rendering experience from reality.  So that ‘when we change the way we look at the world, the world we look at changes.’

He is saying that people fail to question the concepts or ‘mental images’ dogmatically dictated outside them, viz. by society via convention, culture, routine, etc., and assert the freedom of their creative mind. When these patterns are broken new worlds will emerge.

White Nights

“I am a dreamer. I know so little of real life that I just can’t help re-living such moments as these in my dreams, for such moments are something I have very rarely experienced. I am going to dream about you the whole night, the whole week, the whole year. I feel I know you so well that I couldn’t have known you better if we’d been friends for twenty years. You won’t fail me, will you? Only two minutes, and you’ve made me happy forever. Yes, happy. Who knows, perhaps you’ve reconciled me with myself, resolved all my doubts.

When I woke up it seemed to me that some snatch of a tune I had known for a long time, I had heard somewhere before but had forgotten, a melody of great sweetness, was coming back to me now. It seemed to me that it had been trying to emerge from my soul all my life, and only now-

If and when you fall in love, may you be happy with her. I don’t need to wish her anything, for she’ll be happy with you. May your sky always be clear, may your dear smile always be bright and happy, and may you be for ever blessed for that moment of bliss and happiness which you gave to another lonely and grateful heart. Isn’t such a moment sufficient for the whole of one’s life?”

– Fyodor Dostoyevsky; White Nights

Advance Confidently in the Direction of Your Dreams

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favour in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
-Henry David Thoreau

Teacher

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
—William Arthur Ward

Keep this in mind when you communicate: you cannot escape the reward of your action. Consider that each time you communicate with someone you are revealing something about who you are and what you know.

“Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

We learn from every man, and every man learns from us. In this way we are teachers. Instruct the prying eyes with inspiration. Let it seep from your intention and into your action. Do not waste time living mechanically or methodically. These are the grossest representations of transcendent man. Instead, become imbued with exuberant ecstasy, let your revelatory enthusiasms erupt with escalatory elation! Be a great teacher. Inspire with greatness.

 

Remake the World

“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”  -Ray Bradbury

This quote inspires the hell outta me. Remake the world. Fashion it according to the inner. What is the inner? Is it lust worthy? Is it wonderfully made? What does that inner life look like? How does one accumulate enough of these miniature worlds to reconstruct a wholly new reality?

Is it mood that determines the direction? Passions? Motivations? What is it in someone, in myself, that fuels the furious fire inside? Where is that spark?

What must I do? Huddle in libraries? Nestle in books? Must I write? Endlessly? Ceaselessly without tire? How to fashion the imagination? The infinite?

The more defiant and questionable and adventurous you are, the larger your world. The gaping green grass spans as far as the eye can see.

Question everything but the wild. Never tame yourself.

Remake the world.

Imagination. What a wonderful concept. What is imagination? The faculty that imagines. That creates something from nothing. That extends beyond the reach of time and necessity and constraints of realism. It falls endlessly forward and backward. Forms and substance, concepts and ideas, personalities and character, comedy and tragedy.

Is it sad that I cannot paint a story of imagination? I need to water this latent faculty, this dormant world. It exists wholly independent, barely existing at all. Where is this place where monsters smile? Before I wake  each day, I want to write down ten impossible ideas. I want to force the option and make them exist in the imaginary.

Letter between friends

First of all, I am open. As open as ever. I admit that my search has not ended, and will not end, as long as I am alive, and as long as I feverently aspire to reconcile belief and truth in my quest for knowledge and understanding. The more I know, the more I do not know- further confirming my duty to seek out understanding.

Anyone who is unwilling to shed biases, look beyond the ego, rise above the forces of conditioning, and continually start anew in the pursuit of truth is self-deceived, and unapologetically so. Also, before we begin discussing, just as you can pronounce the fault of youth and years of inexperience, so too can I pronounce the fault of age and the years of conditioning that only serve to further entrench beliefs (and leave men with the delusion that they are proficient enough in the art of their reason. But this satisfaction is limited to ones own ratiocination, and does not extend to other men).

You apply faith to the unknown (supernatural conceptions outside the sanctifications of observed reality, derived from inherited historical and cultural constructions) in exchange for an assurance that rescues from the angst of the unknown.

Continue reading “Letter between friends”

Curiosity

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

Albert Einstein quotes

Epic Blurb.

I love swimming. Becoming totally engulfed in an essence. I love swimming in the ethereal feelings and thoughts kindled in my glowing imagination. I want to live fully. What do I think?

I cannot keep putting off responsibilities. Responsibilities like… homework; studying; keeping in touch with people; being happy. I have a responsibility to be happy ya know. No one else is responsible for my happiness. Its unique to me.

Is it good to avoid criticism? Should one look for it?

***

I visited cousin at Amherst College this weekend. Watched the football game. Beautiful campus. Small population of students but spacious none the least. Hung out with the football gang. All seemingly intelligent people. It’s odd to visit a wet campus. Alcohol prevails in every dorm and every hall. The smell of stale beer leads you to the next party. Filled with juvenile adolescents indulging in self destruction- pounding away at another helping of hoppy watered-down ethanol or some other distilled liquid pleasure. These people. Freedom is such a new quality. I remember the days when I was overwhelmed with freedom. It’s where the irresponsibility started and accountability faded away as I justified my actions with those of my peers. Sad really. My individualism was lost amongst the crowd. And for what? Acceptance is too cliche for an answer. I stripped and tossed my convictions without hesitating a moment. No contemplation. We don’t think that far ahead in our youth. We live in the now. We rarely take time to see into the distance future. If we did, we would see how our accumulated actions would be disserving and adjust accordingly.

Maybe its alright to pander to some of our fleeting youthful satisfactions. Its a slippery slope. The miligram experiment by social psychologist stanley milgram perfectly illustrates what happens when we undermine our convictions. We continue this trend until there are no limits to what we do. The line has been crossed, we are confused, we lose sight of right and wrong as we justify out previous slip.

Amherst was fun. I’m through with the binge atmosphere. I want social glee. I want to be surrounded with quality people who enjoy the finer things in life. Who rise above mindless impulses and short-lived thrills.

Education will not solve the worlds problems. The worlds problems are more than the tangible pressures we face. We face trials of the heart. When the man is right, his world will be right. How can education cause men to be more introspective with their intentions? Just because a man is sincere doesn’t mean he can’t be sincerely wrong. Is man the measure of all things? How far does this measure extend?

*****

I often wonder what would happen if I forfeit all the wisdom I’ve believed to have accumulated? What would happen to my world is I tossed my convictions and standards into the wind and remained wild, totally free from reason. Ha. As I say this I just think of how most post-modern liberals behave. I’m sure my behavior wouldn’t be that different.

*****

I need to write a paper. A LONG paper. A case study. On a company with a woman who’s got no work ethic. Who started a business strictly because she does not work well with authority. Who stated that shes alright with her businesses minimal growth because she reaps tax benefits and money from subsidies to small businesses. She is stealing our tax money becuase she refuses to work hard to earn more money for herself. Wow. This women is nice. She’s got some good ideas. She is clueless when it comes to investing herself into a vision and seeing that vision come alive. She instead settles for mediocrity. A business that’s providing barely enough to get by. She comes to work late. She fired every employee shes hired because of ‘personality conflicts’ but stated that she prefers an employee because that makes me come to work on time. People. I swear. How the hell do I even approach this study. I outlined a business plan proposal. When I write the paper I obviously want to write like this is going to a valuable company with vested stakeholders- instead, I think about how this women won’t heed a damn word and although my analysis of her basic production methods is legitimate- I find that all she needs is a good lesson on working hard and the principles of success. Being an economics paper I can’t very well write a philosophy discourse of strategies for success, but I’m EXTREMELY tempted. If there wasn’t a hefty grade attached I would write such a paper and throw it in her face. I’d also rattle off a few rants on why any social distribution of wealth is inherently flawed due to free loaders like her.

My God! People must misunderstand me all the time! When I talk of success- this doesn’t translate into financial gain! People probably think I’m so egocentric and highfalutin because they totally misinterpret success. Actually- they are totally ignorant to success in general so they are stigmatized to the notion!

SUCCESS!!!! What is means!!! Progressively realizing a worthy ideal!— And working towards it with every molecule and vibration in your being! Being excellent and exploring the unknown wellsprings of untapped potential! BEING THE BEST AT WHAT YOU DO! If you decide to do something- put your all into it! Enough???? ‘Aren’t I doing enough’ you ask? Enough is only your best! Do not lie or deceive yourself. There is no such thing as failure. There is no such thing as try! There is Do. or Do not. Live. or live not. You choose.

I believe that all psychological illnesses stem from people not realizing their full potential. They sabotage themselves and what they think they can or cannot do! They become entrenched in limiting thoughts and habits and live their lives, like Thoreau said, ‘in quiet desperation’.

****

Some people feel that they lack motivation or intelligence or desire or skills. HA! HAHAH! I pity these people. I do. Continually focusing on what they lack instead of what they have at their disposal! How can one gain more by spending his time counting everything he hasn’t! All man needs to succeed he already possesses. The most valuable tool in his arsenal of achievement? Will. What is will? The ability to apply oneself to a decision. We all possess the ability to make a decision. Focus on that decision- never mind the details for they’ll take care of themselves- and you will watch live spring to life. Will! The more you exercise will the more you empower yourself! Have Dreams! Have vision! “Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.” (Joel Barker)

*****

I want to help other people find their potential. They may ask- what is potential??? What does that mean??? It is everything you are not and you want to be.
I often get caught up thinking that I need to possess the answer in order to plant inspiration within people. How childish! How can I possess all the answers for each individual? Can I make up their mind? Can I pretend to know the depths of their soul and the curiosity of their spirit? No. What I must possess is hope and vision. All I need within myself is the ability to question. To challenge. To encourage people. People have the answers within themselves. They need to look. All I need to to ask the questions that cause people to look within themselves. There they will find the burning flame that starves for more to breath. When this flame catches a breath it will burn brighter and more passionately then they’ve ever known. It will illuminate them from within and their eyes will shine with wonder and awe. They will yearn for more and more and their enthusiasms will cause others to combust in a dazzling display of human achievement.

****

It’s odd. As I often do, I find myself caught in a paradox of conflicting ideology. On one hand- I hold people to the highest most exalted esteem, adorned and lauded for their precious nature. On the other? I find people utterly reviling, evil and carnal in nature. Lost and complacent with consuming the empty tales of hope. Listening fervently with open ears to the flowery but empty rhetoric that evil spews forth. Lies- deception and deceit. It pulls at the strings of their heart and beckons them to follow but leads no where. Are they sheep? They are defiant sheep. I cannot hate the ignorant. I myself am just as ignorant. I do- however- hate the lies. Those that lead others astray have gained my utmost contempt. Their words are like honey to the lips that poisons and incapacitates. These men lead nowhere.

****

I love life. I wish I would think less and act more. At the end of the day all that matters is what was actually accomplished. When my life is over- I won’t be able to celebrate the hours of cathartic reflection and quiet contemplation. I will have to show what my life produced. When the harvest is ready- one cannot make excuses for anything less than his best. This life we sow our best, till and prune and water and tend. When this life is over only the fruits of our labor will reveal our success.

***
I have to work. I have much to do. I have much to write about. No holding back.

****

attraction

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.
Herman Melville
(1819-1891)

so i watched this movie “the Secret”
its about the laws of attrraction and how you can get whatever you want outta life if you understand this law. if its money. if its fame. if its women. if its violence. if its to be creative. if its a house. WHATEVER YOU WANT. just by controlling and understanding the importance of controlling your everythought. obviously its a bit deeper than that. so. im gonna learn more about it and i recommend HIGHLY you watch the movie. it WILL blow you away.